Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

BMW 218D M Sport Active Tourer Auto

In BMW, Vauxhall, Volkswagen on December 11, 2018 at 11:41 pm

218 D MSport active T 3Last week I swapped my top of the range BMW 225xe Luxury Active Tourer for an M Sport diesel.

My usual car boasts up to 220 BHP (assuming there’s charge in the hybrid motor), whilst the 218D represents the second lowest access point to the range with 148 BHP.

One might therefore imagine I felt short changed?  The truth is the diesel was way better than anticipated.

The slower car 2.0 litre diesel always has 148 bhp on tap, but the 1.5 litre 225xe only has 136 bhp when the battery has been exhausted.

All of which means there are times when a brisk overtaking manoeuvre can sometimes take longer than anticipated.

So the £4500 cheaper car serves up quicker progress more of the time, and the 2.0 litre lump is incredibly quiet.

In every day driving the petrol hybrid returns 47 mpg, but that doesn’t allow for the electricity I pump into it each evening.

The 218D managed just over 43 mpg in my hands, but I’m guessing the engine was still “tight” and mpg would improve over time.

218 D MSport active T 4

So how was the 218 in the cut and thrust of 200 odd miles of motoring?  Surprisingly good.

The road holding seemed better than on my 225xe (which is currently on winter tyres).

I really noticed the 218D feeling far more agile than the 218D Grand Tourer.  The pearlescent white Active Tourer also had a sliding back seat (not available on the 225xe).

The only things I missed were heated seats, and steering wheel, and my big glass sunroof.

The latter helps with ventilation, and the 218D misted up when it was raining.

On balance if your looking for a 5 seat MPV the BMW 218D Active Tourer M Sport auto would make a fine choice.

218 D MSport active T 2

Would the private buyer miss the nigh on silent 20 odd miles of battery powered propulsion each day?

Probably not.

So would I recommend one?

Not really.

The A and B pillars block out too much vision (whichever engine is chosen).

I reckon the set up must cause numerous accidents each year.

Most folk would be better off with an Astra 1.4 turbo reviewed yesterday, or a Golf!




“It’s got a Sport button!”

In Vauxhall, Volkswagen on December 10, 2018 at 11:59 pm

IMG_3801Two or three years back a friend took me all the way from Basingstoke to Devon in a recent shape Astra Diesel estate.

As a passenger the whole experience was remarkably civilised.

It was much better than expected.

Last month I was in Ireland and played the rental car lottery, and look what they gave me.

A manual Astra 1.4 Turbo!

Guess what?

It turned out to be bloomin’ marvelous.

Comfortable – CHECK

Roomy – CHECK

Attractive – CHECK

Thrifty – CHECK (over 38 mpg when thrashed)

Bluetooth – Check


After a few hours my colleague noticed a Sport button.

Okay so it didn’t feel that quick, but 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds for a boggo hire car ain’t that bad!

So it missed out on Sat Nav, but it did get Cruise Control and a nice dashboard.

Was it as good as a lowly Golf hired on my last trip?


Is a Golf worth wheelbarrow loads of extra dosh?

I doubt it.

Second hand 2018 low mileage Astras come in at under £11,000.

That’s got to be a bargain.

Maybe just look out for one with Sat Nav, and be prepared to pay a bit more.


The only bits I’d mark it down on are;

Identity.  Our car wore a Vauxhall badge, but the bluetooth pairing called our car an Opel!

Road Noise. Not as whisper quiet as a VW.


Long time coming

In Hyundai on October 11, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Handover 2It’s been a long time coming.  Gone are the days when we chop in our cars every few months.

Our blue BMW 125 MSport was sold a few weeks back, and after a few test drives a replacement has been found.

We’ve lost 100 horse power, and low profile tyres.  In exchange we now have suspension that floats over the pot-holed roads, and acceleration which is “pedestrian at best”.


Are we disappointed?  Not really.  We now have a warranty which runs until 2023, a panoramic opening sunroof, reversing camera and even a spare wheel.

Handover 1

I’d even argue that a Hyundai i20 is more beautiful.

For roughly half the price we paid last time round we’ve forsaken leather sports seats (but even so they are still heated) and lost 4 cogs in our auto box.

The previous owner bought the car new, and then chopped it for an i30.  That saved us £4000.

The only “loss” we’ve incurred by getting a “run out” model is that ours is a 1.4, rather than a modern 1.0 litre 3 cylinder with a 6 speed DCT box.

In the last 2 weeks we’ve only covered 300 miles.

More reports our 4th Hyundai to follow later.


Class Leader?

In Volkswagen on August 10, 2018 at 9:54 pm

FACEWhy on earth did VW try to wangle the system?

That’s the question I found myself wondering when I was in Ireland a few weeks back.

It’s patently obvious they make excellent cars, so why bother to try and be clever and risk the future of the company?

Take this 3 pot 108 PS Golf as a case in point.

For want of a few horsepower it would be all the car you’d ever need.

Agile, economical, comfortable, attractive, and fitted with radar controlled cruise control.

Okay I think I’d want to add Sat Nav and an auto box, but really this is a 9 out of 10 car, and I’m no VW fan.

The sad fact is it that the base Golf is a way better drivers car than any entry level 1 Series BMW, whether you pick a petrol or derv powered machine.

My one had snazzy alloys, but decent squidgy tyres, and was way better than a BMW M Sport on bumpy roads.


How could Volkswagen make it a 10 out of 10 car?


Reduce the price by £2500 and it would be perfect.

The new BMW X2

In BMW on August 9, 2018 at 10:41 pm

X2 b or 1It’s not often I get to drive cars soon after they’ve been launched.

Today my 225xe was in for a service, and I was given an auto X2 2.0 Diesel M Sport as a courtesy car.

I was quite grateful that the default 3 series in my name had just been sold.

First impressions?

The burnt orange and grey highlights make this X2 look remarkably handsome.

X2 b or 2The twin exhausts create a purposeful rear end, and the boot was a wonderful shape which swallowed up my sales kit well.

Mind you the parcel shelf obstructed the egress of my sample cases.

X2 b or 3Inside it was my chance to sample the latest generation of BMW ergonomics.

I liked the optional speed limit indicator, but in Britain surely readouts for 30, 50, and 70 would make more sense than 20, 40, 60 and 80 mph?

Changes to how the centre console read outs are displayed were an irritant. First up the Sat Nav was too dark, and input post codes now seems less simple.

The opportunity to have 4 “tabs” open might suit some, but the icons were so small that it seemed a pretty pointless “improvement”.

The M Sport seats proved comfortable, but with a low roofline and acres of black leather my overall impression was akin to being inside a coffin with the lid slightly raised.

In total I covered 160 miles at an average speed of less than 35 mph, whilst hitting over 48 mpg.

X2 b or 4Low profile tyres look good, but the broken surfaces on the a27 sent shudders through the cabin.  My advice would be to choose the next model down in the range with smaller wheels.

Performance looks good on paper but the diesel rumble is intrusive, and overtaking was less urgent than in my hybrid Active Tourer.

Bottom line, would I want one.

Not really. I’ve got 4 wheel drive already, and on battery power the 225 whispers where this X2 rumbles.

All the same, thanks to Chandlers BMW for spicing up my day.


Big Nose – Small Bum

In BMW, Mercedes Benz on January 13, 2018 at 7:49 pm

NOSEI’ve never been that fond of the Merecedes Benz A Class.

Highlights in previous editions where;

  1. A tendency to fall over.
  2. A fabulous concertina style large sunroof
  3. The second edition was a quantum leap from the first
  4. The Third edition became available in an AMG 45 spec, great for hooligans.

My only personal driving experience in an A Class was an auto diesel in poverty spec, back in 2013.

It was woeful through corners, and felt immensely inferior to the equivalent BMW 1 Series I drove on the same day.

Fast forward to 2018 and what can I say about 9 hours in an A Class 180 Diesel Auto?

Well actually I really liked it.

Somehow it seemed far more alert to the helm than the one I’d tried in Cornwall.

The stalk operated auto, and stalk operated cruise control were certainly better than our own BMW 125 M Sport controls.

The seats were similar in design, but more comfy than those on our Beemer.

The Sat Nav was better (although our BMW is 4 years old – newer versions are better).

Economy was good, I averaged 50 mpg, and 27 mph over three days.

The automatic handbrake system worked well.

Lovely interior, soft sumptuous leather.  Fabulous illuminated Merc door sill logos.

cill crazy

Not so good?

I found it impossible to increase the volume of phone calls even after trying every knob and setting.

Once paired the car couldn’t assimilate all my extensive contacts.

That big nose still looks ugly.  I was surprised that the rounded “bottom” isn’t that roomy when the rear hatch is popped open.

1 + A

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Citroen Ami 8 levels of gutlessness away from the line, most noticeably at roundabouts.

Once up and running the smooth 7 speed box punted the car along just fine.

I found the cup holders too high in the centre of the car, and didn’t like the removable divider.


A great car, as this model draws close to being pensioned off it could prove a canny buy if a “deal” could be done.

8 out of 10

Well done Mercedes.